Doing The Aftermath


 

Michael Blumenthal wrote that Gernman philsopher Arthur Schopenhauer had a point “when he said that the first half of life gives us text and what follows supplies the commentary on it.”

 

The media did a lot of focusing last night, trying to figure out another election, and how it was that one party was able to assume the reins of power.  At the National Press Club today DNC Chair Howard Dean and RNC Chair Mike Duncan answered questions, a few of which involved politics and religion.  The votes would be recounted soon in the Minnesota senatorial election, with the press reported that urban people had supported the Democrat, the rural and suburban supporting the Republican.   

 

A lot of voting was based on fear.  We lived in a country where various religious tolerated all the other denominations.  But did religion tolerate the rest of the citizenry?  And when there is so much little tolerance of an opponent during a campaign, why would anyone expect tolerance on November 5th, once the campaign was over?  Equally, in the “age of diversity” those who drive with rainbows bumper stickers preaching the gospel of diversity seem to be among the most intolerant of the evangelical vote. 

 

My sister is in Israel today.  She has never lived outside of Minneapolis and has little exposure to diverse points of views, conservative ones, until this trip.  She was traveling this election day with a group from Nebraska who I strongly suspect will have Republican leanings.  I lived for 4 years in Omaha and then lived in 2 other states that McCain carried last night.  And Big Red football was as strong and unrelenting in the seventies as the hammer and sickle was in the Soviet Bloc.  Nebraska never lost, and I never cheered for them.  Now Cornhusker football has hit hard time, and they have my quiet support. 

 

Elections.  Winners. Losers.  We all hated to lose games, arguments, or elections.  Losses taught humility.  Religious belief was spurned on when a denomination was in the minority.  That was the strength of the Jewish community outside places like New York City.  RNC Chair Mike Duncan answered one question at the National Press club suggesting that Republicans would be listening to people at their website in coming days, which is a 180 degree turn from the Republicans inhabiting the White House for the last 8 years, as any Republican Senator would agree.  Strength did come from humility. 

 

I had grown up in an age when Catholic grade schools raised money for the missions with a spin at the time of collecting coins for pagan babies.  I grew up in an Irish Catholic enclave in Scandanavian America.  Today the real conflict in the western world was between those who belonged to a religious denomination and those who were New Age, separated from community with an ideology formed in a secular society that might not include any theological belief.  The enclaves for the most part were gone.  There was no longer a consensus about God. We lived in an age of pluralism where the children of people were taught to respect diversity until a relativism developed that seemed to teach that much of life was just an opinion, with no recognition that there was a right or a wrong.  Those pagan babies were now living amongst us, and they wanted to sanctify their relationships as the relationships of heterosexuals were sanctified by the legal world.  My lawyer happens to believe marriage is strictly a secular event and that ministers, priest, and rabbis should have no right to preside over the ceremony. 

  

In the battle of the secular with a religious way of life, in a nation still trying to find a national identity, in a country that seldom seemed to lose, where everyone hired lawyers, in a world where humility was more and more scarce, I thought of the controversy from 4 years ago when the archbishop in St. Louis who before he picked up a new portfolio in Vatican City was quoted as saying he would withhold communion from John Kerry in 2004.  I had misread a story out of Omaha this weekend that Archbishop Elden Curtis had instructed Catholics to vote for John McCain.  He did not, though it made me reflect on one event in the first half of life.  My mind had raced to an ordination which I had attended in 1986.  And I had been asked to stand next to the archbishop of Omaha as he distributed Communion or Wine, perhaps to wipe off the chalice.  Yet he never got off the altar, letting the massive number of other priests tend to the distribution.  Only after researching did I find Archbishop Elden Curtis was not the archbishop that day. It was an era before withholding communion had ever been in the press.  There were no politicians in the congregation that day of whom I was aware. 

 

This morning I had read a quote in the Sioux Falls paper about an abortion issue on their ballot, in a state where I once had lived. The writer had quoted an attorney for Norma Leah McCorvey who is best known as the legal pseudonym Jane Doe in the landmark Roe V. Wade in 1973.  I did not know until this morning that she gave birth to the baby in question, later converted in August 1995 to Catholicism, and recanted her support for abortion rights.  Despite asking for an abortion in her original suit, McCorvey gave birth to a girl who was placed for adoption.  I wonder if she had ever read any Schopenhauer. 

 

It struck me that there were a lot of people who looked with envy on Christian families, people who desired to sanctify their own relationships.  And that instruction from the Gospel, to love your enemies, was the most affective way to recruit people to the same tradition that had been passed by my parents along to me.  It was not so much an issue of withholding communion as teaching that sins were forgivable, that we are all so stupid in what we have done and what we have failed to do.  Bishops and archbishops seldom talk about withholding confession.  The irony is how few even talk about confession, in a world where humility was more and more scarce

 

Schopenhauer’s point seemed to be that healing was an ongoing process, that the second  half of life in supplying the commentary was all about the search for healing and forgiveness.  And Mr. Schopenhauer had been an atheist. 


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